Clean and Green Retail Ordinance

Information and FAQS pertaining to the City's Clean and Green Ordinance

On January 1, 2020, Albuquerque's Clean and Green Retail Ordinance (O-48) will take effect throughout the City. Enforcement of the Ordinance was suspended during the Covid-19 emergency, but Environmental Health will resume enforcement on August 1, 2021. The new law aims to improve our environment by curbing the distribution of single-use plastic bags.

Frequently Asked Questions

For Residents For Businesses

For Residents

Which plastic bags are banned?

Any single-use plastic bag for the purpose of carrying products from the point of sale. This includes compostable and biodegradable bags and all plastic bags less than 2.25 mils thick.

Why ban plastic bags?

  • Plastic bags are a significant source of litter along roadways and in open spaces.
  • Plastic bags are produced from oil and gas and remain in the environment essentially forever.

Can't we recycle plastic bags?

Plastic bags can't be recycled in your blue cart. Plastic bags can be recycled in cardboard receptacles located at many local retail stores. Download a list of updated participating locations. Please call and confirm with the location before taking your plastic bags to be recycled.

How will I carry my groceries home?

Making the switch to reusable bags is recommended, and some retailers give rebates to customers who bring their own bags to the store. There is nothing in the ordinance that prevents customers from bringing their own bags of any type to take home their groceries. Retail stores will provide a compliant bag at the point of sale.

Where can I purchase or find reusable bags?

  • Local grocery retailers
  • Discount retail stores
  • Online
  • Various community events

What should I do with the paper shopping bags that I receive?

Reuse them, recycle them, or donate clean ones to your neighborhood food bank. Paper bags with food or grease on them should go into your trash cart.

Can businesses provide reusable plastic bags or paper bags?

Yes, businesses may substitute paper grocery bags or other types of reusable plastic bags which are at least 2.25 mils thick. They may be provided free or charged for at the store's discretion.

Can businesses provide single-use plastic bags made of compostable or biodegradable material?

No, not unless they are 2.25 mils thick.

Can restaurants provide single-use plastic bags?

Yes. The Ordinance does not apply to food service establishments.

What other food service establishments qualify for an exemption?

In addition to restaurants, snack bars, food trucks, bakeries, and delis are exempt.

Can dry cleaners provide bags?

Yes, dry cleaning bags are exempt.

I use plastic bags to pick up my pet's waste. What will I use instead?

Local pet stores sell bags specifically for this purpose and sale of these bags will not be affected by the Ordinance. Existing pet waste stations on trails and in parks will continue to provide plastic bags for discarding pet waste.

What about bakery goods?

Bakeries are exempt and bags of any kind may be used for individual bakery goods, loaves of bread, and other pastries.

Is there an information sheet available with more information to share with my neighborhood?

Yes. Download the resident flyer that lists three key facts about the Ordinance.

What should I do if a store is using plastic bags?

To report concerns about a store using plastic bags, call 311. You will need to provide the name of the business and its address to the 311 representative. Remember, food service establishments, food banks, and dry cleaners are exempt from the Ordinance. Complaints about these establishments using plastic bags will not be taken.

Who may I contact for additional information?

Call 311.

For Businesses

What businesses are affected by the Ordinance?

All businesses within Albuquerque's city limits except for food service establishments, food banks, and dry cleaners. Most retail establishments are subject to the new Ordinance including the following stores:

  • Grocery
  • Department
  • Hardware
  • Liquor
  • Convenience
  • Gift
  • Thrift
  • Book
  • Other retail stores and vendors

There is no exemption for small retailers.

Which plastic bags are allowed?

  • Laundry or dry cleaning bags
  • Restaurant, food service or prepared food counter bags for takeout
  • Meat and produce bags
  • Newspaper and door hanger bags
  • Pet waste, yard waste, and garbage bags
  • Bags provided by pharmacists or veterinarians to contain prescriptions drugs or medical necessities as specified by the Food and Drug Administration
  • Bulk item bags such as for food or hardware items
  • Bags or plastic wraps for flowers or potted plants
  • Reusable plastic bags with minimum thickness of 2.25 mils
  • Bags of any type that a shopper brings to the store for his or her own use to carry away goods at the point of sale
  • Jumbo plastic bags for bedding, furniture, balloons etc.
  • Garment bags

Does the Ordinance require the City to charge businesses a fee for giving out plastic bags, reusable, or paper bags to their customers?

Non-compliant plastic bags may not be issued to customers, even for a fee. The City will not charge any fees for compliant bags, such as reusable bags or paper grocery bags.

Are there any restrictions on businesses choosing to charge a fee on all bags?

No, there are no requirements. This decision is up to the business.

If my business collects bags from customers for recycling, can I reuse the good ones as carryout bags?

No, plastic bags collected from customers cannot be given out to other customers as point of sale bags. Customers may bring in and reuse their own, subject to the policy of the store.

What type of bag is considered reusable?

A reusable bag is specifically designed for multiple use and is constructed of cloth, other washable fabric, or other durable materials with a minimum thickness of 2.25 mils thick. This is equivalent to about two sheets of stacked copy paper.

What should businesses do if they have stockpiles of plastic bags that last beyond the January 1, 2020 effective date of the ban?

Businesses with locations outside of Albuquerque can ship their bag inventory to those locations. Local businesses should consider donating their remaining stock of single-use plastics bags to a local food bank.

Will leniency be given on bags that are almost 2.25 mils thick?

No. Should a question arise, businesses should be prepared to show that the bags they are using are 2.25 mils thick or greater. It might a good idea for businesses to ask bag suppliers to include the thickness of the bag on invoices or have the thickness printed directly on the bag.

What are the differences between the County and the municipal ordinances?

The City Ordinance is in effect within the Albuquerque City limits only. The Bernalillo County Plastic Bag and Styrofoam Ban will be in effect in the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County only. Download a copy of Bernalillo County's Ordinance.

What are the penalties for not complying with these new requirements?

The Ordinance describes enforcement options, including fines for violations of the Ordinance.

What is the City's plan for informing businesses and residents about the Ordinance?

The City will continue to provide information through social media, Chamber of Commerce, business associations, water bill inserts, and other communication tools.

Are retailers allowed to use existing stocks of plastic bags after January 1, 2020?

No, retailers are required to clear stocks prior to the Ordinance taking effect.

Is there an information sheet available that I can share with my customers?

Yes. Download the resident flyer that lists three key facts about the Ordinance.

Is there an information sheet available for businesses?

Yes. Download the business flyer.

Who may I contact for additional information?

Call 311.

Download a copy of the Clean and Green Retail Ordinance.